Winter 2013 was lousy for me.
And then it got a whole lot worse.
The downturn started last November. I became disenchanted with Twitter. I had been an enthusiastic tweeter for a couple of years under the handle of @beesnbeans, so it was surprising when I started to lose interest in it.
I deleted my account. Then in a fit of “What have I done?!?!” I went back and tried to un-delete it, but it was too late: Twitter had taken me seriously.
I continued on living… but around January I knew something was not right. I started feeling massively sad. I underwent a lot of catharsis – a lot of emotional cleansing. Looking back, I think it was a mini mid-life crisis where some unhealed residue from childhood surfaced.
Then, in mid-January I decided to take the small lump that was growing on my neck seriously. Being a modern gal, I had diagnosed myself with the help of the internet and had concluded that it was a cyst, nothing to worry about. When I finally went to the doctor and she started to get panicky, I helped myself to a generous serving of humble pie.
I was referred to the Ear, Nose and Throat Department at St George’s Hospital in Tooting. Parking is tricky over there. On the day that a doctor confirmed the lump as lymphoma, we also found a £110 parking ticket pinned to our windscreen.
I was transferred to the Haematology and Oncology Department and put under the care of Dr Ruth Pettengell, a lymphoma specialist. A couple of scans and an operation later, I opened the door of the Trevor Howell Unit where I started chemotherapy on March 13.
No amount of knowledge can prepare you for your first experience of chemo. You are sat in a big room where at least 20 people are attached to IVs. You are brought a plastic tray filled with large bags of fluid with your name on them. The nurse adroitly sticks a needle in a vein and fixes a gadget to you that accepts the drip. And then you sit there wondering why humanity has to endure such trials.
The first treatment they start the drip slowly so I had to submit to six hours of sitting there with my arm stretched out. I made my husband fetch coffee and biscuits for me like I was the Queen of Sheba – it was a way of distracting myself.
Chemo sucks. It leaves you with an industrial feeling and your hair falls out. I had shaved my head in the 1990s for a fund-raiser, but this time the hair came out just by pulling on it. It just ain’t a happy time.
I had three treatments, three weeks apart and at that point a PET scan showed that I was all-clear.
I had to take a lot of pills during the ordeal but one thing they can’t medicate you for is fear. And that is the shadow cancer forces you to dance with. Fear of death, fear of God, fear of the future.
I was greatly helped by Whitney Houston and 21 years of spiritual practice – and even then it was tough. Sickness makes you look at what’s important, which our society is often not inclined to do.
So, after much guidance, I have started Croydon Truth Project, which I hope will encourage the appreciation of life and existence itself. I approach truth from a mind-training angle because it’s our beliefs that determine the way we think and experience life.
The mind naturally wants to be happy but we’ve been bogged down by a lot of baloney.
My first offering is a Mind-Loosening Workshop, where we will look at and experience freedom from often ingrained concepts and beliefs. I am offering two separate sessions, the first on Saturday, August 2, the next on and Saturday, August 16. There are more details on my website, https://croydontruth.wix.com/croydontruth.
I am also planning to hold other workshops and classes, such as looking at weight issues from a spiritual perspective and truth for seniors because, as we age, looking toward truth is a natural development.
Email me if you’re interested or if you have any other ideas or questions, or to be put on the mailing list.
And a massive thanks to the doctors and nurses at St George’s Hospital!
- Susan Oliver is back on Twitter. You can follow her @croydontruth.
- To contact her by email, write to email@example.com
Coming to Croydon
- David Lean Cinema: Tracks, July 24
- Lives Not Knives beer fund-raiser, July 24
- Fragile, Spread Eagle Theatre, July 24-26
- CODA’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at Wandle Park, Jul 30-Aug 2
- David Lean Cinema: Locke, July 31
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, Aug 2
- Patchwork and quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, Aug 4
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 6
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, Aug 10
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 13
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Aug 16
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 20
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 27
- Upper Norwood Library well-being groups, Aug 30
- Warlingham rugby dinner with international Richard Hill, Sep 12
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Sep 20
- Streatham Common 6M race, Sep 27
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Oct 18
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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